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Apple Watch vs Apple Watch Sport: The Right One For You?

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There’s been a lot of hype surrounding wearables, specifically smartwatches, in the last few years, with plenty of rumours surrounding every major manufacturer. Apple in particular had been rumoured to be making a so-called iWatch for a very long time, but after a few companies made their own (somewhat lacklustre) devices (usually with bespoke software) it was Google that finally broke cover with Android Wear and ushered in a boom of new wrist-mounted smart things. Then, in late 2014 Apple confirmed it did indeed have something clever up its sleeve, but it wasn’t the iWatch at all, no, it’s actually called the Apple Watch. A lot was kept under wraps still, and it wasn’t until earlier in 2015 that Tim Cook finally unveiled the full extent of the Apple Watch and its features. And as it  turns out, this is aimed at being a personal device tailored to you; there’s quite a lot of options to choose from. That raises a crucial question; which Apple Watch model is right for you?

First some information on projected Apple Watch sales:

“The Apple Watch will blow past Wall Street’s expectations, says a Morgan Stanley investor note published on Wednesday. The firm raised its price target on Apple stock from $115 to $126 on their revised estimates, reports Business Insider. “Morgan Stanley said most analysts are expecting Apple to sell between 10 million and 30 million watches in 2015, but they think 30 million units is a reasonable — and ‘arguably still conservative’ — estimate.”

Now, which Apple Watch is right for you? This question is a bit of a conundrum because it is both simpler to answer than you would think, but harder in some respects as well. Why simpler? Because the internals of all Apple Watches are exactly the same. Still, there are 38 different models of the Apple Watch when you consider the variants of all the different editions.

“According to ereceipt data from 9,080 online shoppers,” notes Slice Intelligence, “each Apple Watch buyer ordered an average of 1.3 watches, spending $503.83 per watch. Those ordering an Apple Watch Sport spent $382.83 per watch and those ordering the Apple Watch spent $707.04.” The report added: “Most consumers–62 percent– purchased the less-expensive Sport model. However,  many Apple Watch buyers invested in the pricier case but the cheapest band, with more than one third adding a black or white Sport band.”

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Apple’s making BIG BUCKS with its Apple Watch, but it’s not just the timepiece itself which is generating the dough. Apple is also making a killing with the myriad of Apple Watch bands it offers too. Take the entry-level Sports Watch band. It costs $49 to buy but only costs $2.05 to make –– so, quite a profit. The popularity of bands suggests some consumers may be spending more on the Apple Watch than they intended.

“It’s just a psychological thing,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research and head of U.S. business at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, a consumer research firm. “I start with the least investment, and then I spend more money, but I get something else.”

A big consideration when choosing which to buy involves thinking long and hard about how often you plan to own the device, too. You’ll see what I mean by that below. But for starters, let’s look at the tech specs of every Apple Watch: Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition.

But after the initial BUZZ phase, it appears that demand for Apple Watch is dropping off. A new report by Slice claims Apple Watch sales are dropping off at an alarming rate. But these figures need to be taken with a grain of salt because all is not how it appears, as noted by Apple Insider:

“In a rather desperate bid to establish some aspect of failure for Apple Watch, journalists appear to have completely overlooked the majority of the data Slice actually presented. Even if the Slice data is only moderately reliable, it clearly shows that Apple’s first attempt to sell a ‘smart band’ has trounced everything else on the market, and continues to far outsell everything else even after supposedly collapsing,” notes Apple Insider. 

“This reality was not readily apparent in the data Slice presented, which primarily compared Apple Watch sales (at $350 to $1,000 and up) against FitBit fitness trackers, a family of products that range from $60 to $250. Amazon indicates that its top FitBit product is a discounted model that it sells for $90.” 

Apple Watch: Tech Specs

  • Processor: Apple S1
  • OS: Watch OS
  • Display: 38 mm version: 21.2 x 26.5 mm, 33.5 mm diagonally, 272 x 340 pixels, 290ppi. 42 mm version: 24.3 x 30.5 mm, 39 mm diagonally, 312 x 390 pixels, 302ppi.
  • Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate sensor, barometer

As you can see, every Apple Watch comes in two screen sizes: 38mm or 42mm so you can choose the best size for your wrist. Internally all the specs are the same. The Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition all feature the same processor, connectivity, and sensors.

But given the fact that the Apple Watch Sport starts at £299 and the Apple Watch Edition starts at £8,000 you’re no doubt wondering what’s going on with the huge price differences. The answer lies in the Apple Watches’ display and build materials.

Apple Watch: The Differences

Though every Apple Watch comes in two differently sized models the entry-level Apple Watch Sport features a screen made of strengthened Ion-X glass; only the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition get that beautiful and strong sapphire display you’ve been hearing so much about in recent years.

Since sapphire is expensive, the strengthened Ion-X glass on the Apple Watch Sport no doubt helps Apple keep the starting cost down to £299. The big question is can you tell the difference between a strengthened Ion-X glass display and a sapphire display? Most people probably can’t, but that’s not to say the sapphire display found on the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition doesn’t have its benefits. Sapphire is the second hardest material on earth, making it incredibly scratch resistant. But in order to get it on your wrist you’ll need to shell out £479 or more to get an Apple Watch (the mid-tier one).

But the type of glass used in the display isn’t the only difference. The biggest difference between the three models are the metals that make up the body of the device and each Watch’s customization option via available bands.

The entry-level Apple Watch Sport has a body made of lightweight anodized aluminum and comes in silver or space gray. The Apple Watch has a body made of stainless steel and comes in the silver or a carbon coated “space black” stainless steel. The Apple Watch Edition is made from 18-karat gold and comes in yellow gold or rose gold.

It goes without saying that the main reason the price increases dramatically from Apple Watch Sport to Apple Watch to Apple Watch Edition is because of the metals used.

But interestingly it’s the middle version–and not the high-end Apple Watch Edition–that gives you the most options when it comes to choosing the type of watch band you want. The Apple Watch Sport only offers five different fluoroelastomer plastic bands to choose from (white, black, blue, green, or pink). The high-end Apple Watch Edition offers five bands as well. Three leather band options and two fluoroelastomer plastic bands. But the mid-tier Apple Watch offers 12 band options: three different types of leather with seven different color options between them; two different types of stainless steel bands with three color options between them; and two fluoroelastomer plastic bands.

You’d think the Apple Watch Edition would offer the most customization but as that is a limited edition Watch and Apple knows it’s probably going to sell the most of the mid-tier Apple Watch it’s probably the reasoning they’ve created more bands for the Apple Watch than the other versions.

Apple Watch: Which Is Right For You?

This is a lot harder to answer than you would think–and not because there are 38 different models of Apple Watch once you take all the band variants into account. The reason it’s hard to answer is that though the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition might have the bling factor going for them, their capabilities are no different than that of the entry-level Apple Watch Sport, yet because of the differences in the metals used, the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition cost hundreds and even thousands of pounds more than the Apple Watch Sport.

If the Apple Watches were only pieces of jewelry I could see some people clearly opting for the mid- or high-end versions. But it’s likely that a new Apple Watch with much better internals–better processors, sensors, and capabilities–will come out every year. Unless you are rolling in money could you really see yourself upgrading your £8,000 Apple Watch Edition every year? Or even your £949 Apple Watch?

For this reason I think the Apple Watch Sport may be the best option to go for. It’s relatively low cost and less a piece of expensive jewelry and more a wearable device that is reasonably easy to justify an upgrade on every year. Your £8,000 Apple Watch Edition, on the other hand, might be a sexy status symbol now, but if you break the bank to buy one won’t you feel kind of silly having an £8k smartwatch when next year’s £299 Apple Watch Sport has features and tech that are much more advanced?

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